Coming out of the eighties music scene where glam metal clones were topping the charts, Pantera a seemingly unknown band from Texas shed the glam metal image and sound from their first four independent releases, and released their amazing major label debut Cowboys From Hell. This record is my personal favorite from the band that defined metal throughout the nineties, and definitely stands the test of time. I only have a few gripes with the album as a whole. In certain songs the vocals seem to be way to low in volume compared to the guitar, bass, and drum tracks. Also there are a few tracks that seem to me to be used as filler. Other than this the album is excellent. Phil Anselmo is in his vocal prime on this album, releasing low growls or high pitched, falsetto, Halfordesque screams. Dimebag's guitar work is top notch on this release playing some of the best riffs in metal, and playing awesome solos all over the fretboard. Rex's thundering bass lines keep the rhythm under Dimebag's lead playing, and he plays some of the catchiest bass lines in metal. Vinnie Paul showing his dexterity with his amazingly fast hands and feet playing on top of the drums or using the thunderous double bass. Now for reviews of the individual tracks.
Cowboys From Hell - 4.5/5
The title track on this album is a great opener and has one of the most recognizable riffs in metal. Every single member of the band is on top of their game on this one.
Primal Concrete Sledge - 3.5/5
A catchy song that is nice and fast. What brings this song down a few notches is it's length (only two minutes and sixteen seconds) and it's lack of a full guitar solo. There are some nice little lead parts here and there. The vocals are also barely audible. If the vocals were louder I'd probably give this one a 4/5 because it's still pretty cool.
Psycho Holidy - 4.5/5
Extremely catchy song where once again all the band members are on top of there game. Very nice vocal showing from Phil on this track. The guitar solo is freaking amazing (almost a minute long!), and the bass line is extremely cool, drums are thundering and fast.
Heresy - 4/5
Another extremely fast track. The vocals are nice and varied, while the rest of the band rips it up. Some of the lyrics are quite humorous, for instance "so they can lick my sack!" Cool Song.
Cemetary Gates - 5/5
The albums first ballad is one of my two favorite songs on the record. The vocals are melodic with some harmonies from Phil and Rex. The guitar is excellent, in the lead and the rhythm. And Rex and Vinnie definitely get the job done when it comes to the rythem.
Domination - 5/5
My other favorite from the album has the most awesome riff I've ever heard. The solo just rips it up, and the slower rythm part at the end with Dimebag tremelo picking a lead high on the fretboard. Phil growls his way through this song and it definitely fits the mood. Rex does an awesome job on the bass, and Vinnie plays his double bass like there was no tomorrow.
Shattered - 4.5/5
This song sounds like it should be being played by Judas Priest. The main riff sounds like a Painkiller era Priest riff, and Phil's voice is so high pitched, he sounds like Rob Halford singing falsetto. I think it's great.
Clash With Reality - 3/5
Not really one of the most memorable songs on the album, but the riff is still pretty cool. This is one of the tracks I kind of consider to be filler for the album. Still though, not horrible.
Medicine Man - 4.5/5
This is probably the strangest song on the album, the verses are spoken rather than sung which adds to its creepiness. I think it's eccentric qualities are what make me like this song so much. The riffs are awesome, and the solo is extremely well done.
Message In Blood - 4/5
This one had to take a little time to grow on me, but now I enjoy it greatly. This one is also quite strange with a trippy sounding verse. It has great bass during the verses and the guitar is haunting.
The Sleep - 4.5/5
The other ballad on the album is another excellent showing from all members of the band. It is just simply amazing like most of the other tracks on the album. The haunting acoustic intro goes right into booming riffage that fits perfectly. It sounds less morbid than Cemetary Gates, and more creepy. I love the overdubbed vocals by Phil.
The Art Of Shredding - 4/5
This is a pretty cool track. It has a groovy bass intro, then it quickly changes to extreme thrash. It's a nice and fast way to end the album. On this song the band is definitely shredding. It's a great closer to a great album.
So that is the album for you. Overall it gets a 4.5/5 which is not an average. I plan on reviewing all of Pantera's albums so stay tuned for my upcoming review of Vulgar Display Of Power.